Carlstad Crusaders advance to 11th straight Swedish championship, down Uppsala 86ers in shootout

The Carlstad Crusaders got the job done Sunday at Tingvalla field in Karlstad, Sweden, rolling up 65 points in a 65-32 shootout win over the feisty Uppsala 86ers.

This was the fourth time in five years that these two teams have faced each other in the semifinal round. Each time, Carlstad has won. But in two of those contests, the 86ers have surprised Carlstad, pushing them to the limit. Until midway through the third quarter, that was the case in this game as rookie quarterback Alex Alenius, starting for the very first time, performed beyond expectations, testing the Crusaders secondary time and again.

However, the Crusaders eventually took full control of the game as the defense slowly imposed its will and the quarterbacking rotation of Shazzon Mumphrey  (10 of 13/186/2 TDs) and Phil Juhlin (9 of 15/164/2) combined for 350 yards passing and four touchdowns. Mumphrey ran for 46 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown and Juhlin rushed for 16 yards and two touchdown. Meanwhile, RB Emil Knutsson rushed for 98 yards and one touchdown and wide receiver Robin Juhlin caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Mike Hell caught his very first touchdown pass as did Hugo Sahlberg.

For Uppsala, Alenius threw for 268 yards and threw touchdowns in his debut while also scoring on a one yard plunge. Canadian wide receiver Ryan Hector was superb on the day with 92 yards receiving and one touchdown while also recording five tackles. Isac Wikman had three catches also for 92 and added two touchdowns and Johannes Nilsson ran for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Carlstad QB Shazzon Mumphrey Photo: Tommy Börzsei

Whew.

The first quarter saw Carlstad take control and the lead early forcing a two-point safety and scoring on an Emil Knutsson nine yard touchdown for a 9-0 lead heading into the second stanza.

Uppsala then demonstrated they were in this game by forcing a Knutsson fumble early in the second quarter and then scoring as Alenius hit Hector from 21 yards out to close the gap to 9-7.

Mumphrey responded, finding Robin Juhlin for a 60 yards touchdown to increase the lead to 16-7.

Alenius came right back on the next series, marching Uppsala 80 yards in five plays and handing off the Nilsson who made no mistake, narrowing the lead to 16-14.

Josef Nguzo returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the 86ers 21 yard line and Mumphrey and four plays later Mumphrey punched the ball in to boost the lead to 23-14.

The Carlstad defense stiffened on the next possession forcing Uppsala to punt and Philip Juhlin took over at quarterback mounting a six play, 70 yard drive. He capped with with a beautiful 28 yard touchdown strike to Mumphrey and the Crusaders went into the halftime break leading 30-14.

Uppsala kick returner Jamal Hussein stunned the Crusaders, returning the opening kickoff of the second half 82 yards to the 16 yard line. It took Alenius just four plays and he scored on a one yard plunge to narrow the lead to 30-20.

Juhlin answered, driving the Crusaders from their own 39 yard line down to the 86ers nine yard line and then weaving his way into the end zone to extend the lead to 37-20.

Uppsala QB Alex Alenius Tommy Börzsei

With both defenses seemingly sputtering, first Hector gave Uppsala excellent field position with a 64 yard kickoff return, then Alenius connected with Vikman for a 10 yard touchdown pass to pull with 11, 37-26.

That’s when Uppsala, playing with a 22 man roster, seemed to begin to lose energy and the Crusaders could start imposing their will. The 86ers next drive stalled as Hector fumbled and Carlstad took over at their own 41.  Juhlin needed just four plays, including a 55 yard pass to Kevin Borszei, to maneuver down to the three yard line. He carried the ball in himself and the lead was now 18, 44-26.

Carlstad opened the fourth quarter halting another 86ers drive with Juhlin needing just two plays to find the end zone, this time on a pass to Elias Alberyd  and the Crusaders opened up a 52-26 lead.

Alenius and the Uppsala offense weren’t done yet though. He hooked up with Vikman for a 64 yard touchdown pass and the lead was down to 19, 51-32.

After that, Carlstad simply took full control scoring on two straight possessions with Hell and Sahlberg scoring while the defense picked off Alenius once and kept the Uppsala offense out of range the rest of the way.

With the win, Carlstad has reached the Swedish final every year since 2009 winning all but two, 2009 and 2018, and both times to the team they will face again, the Stockholm Mean Machines. Stockholm defeated the Orebro Black Knights 31-6 in the other semifinal.

The Swedish championship game is scheduled for July 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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